April 25, 2013

"Non-reading is not just the absence of reading. It is a genuine activity..."

"... one that consists of adopting a stance in relation to the immense tide of books that protects you from drowning. On that basis, it deserves to be defended and even taught."
If a book is less a book than it is the whole of the discussion about it, we must pay attention to that discussion in order to talk about the book without reading it. For it is not the book itself that is at stake, but what it has become within the critical space in which it intervenes and is continually transformed. It is this moving object, a supple fabric of relations between texts and beings, about which one must be in a position to formulate accurate statements at the right moment.
That's written by Pierre Bayard, who would like you to read his book, "How to Talk About Books You Haven't Read." But you don't have to read that, because you're reading about it here. I would like you to move in the supple fabric of the Althouse blog, where you can have all manner of relations between texts and beings, right here in the comments, and you're free to formulate accurate and inaccurate statements and the right and the wrong moments.

30 comments:

Broomhandle said...

Really, you could just crank down and take a nap and you'd be in exactly the same intellectual place.

Sorun said...

I non-read by letting Althouse read for me. I'm quite satisfied.

I didn't read whatever is at the link, so my comment might be completely inappropriate.

Nichevo said...

Ah, now you understand why I don't read your links.

Nichevo said...

Damn you, Sorun! Damn you to hell!

;)

Mitch H. said...

Remember that conversation about how kindles and the like are killing the learning-about-someone-by-browsing-their shelves social shortcut? Imagine how not being able to find this book on someone's shelves is going to leave innumerable readers exposed to the predatory idiocy of this guy's nonreaders!

That is, if anyone actually read it. Do they still remainder books, or has the move to e-readers broken that market as well?

Matthew Sablan said...

I'm just here for the comments.

William said...

You have to have read a lot of books to be able to discuss not reading a book in such an elegant, literate way. I think the most non read book on the current scene is Fifty Shades of Gray. Artisanal pornography. What kind of antiquated pervert reads porn instead of watching it.

Chuck Currie said...

At some point, it's time to stop reading and start doing. Why we keep reading is a mystery. What good is all that knowledge if you never do anything with it.

I'm going outside.

Cheers

EDH said...

Does buying a book give you credit for having read the book?

Kind of like a papal indulgence or carbon credit.

I Have Misplaced My Pants said...

What kind of antiquated pervert reads porn instead of watching it.

Women, duh.

CEO-MMP said...

Mitch H.:

My local Books A Million (dreadful place but what are you gonna do...not everywhere can have cool indy bookstores) still sells remaindered books as well as used books. You can bring in your books a couple of days a week, they'll go over them, give you a price, then stick them on their used shelf.

It's kind of neat to see the books people have brought in. Lots of politics, lots of cookbooks.

Most appear un-opened.

Richard Lawrence Cohen said...

Translated from the French, I think Monsieur Bayard is saying that if you read the reviews you don't have to read the book.

Matthew Sablan said...

So what you're saying is we don't have to pass the book to know what is in the book?

Mitchell the Bat said...

What a great conversation starter!

Not read any good books lately?

It's been a New Yorker cartoon, probably.

gbarto said...

Ironically, I bought this, and read it cover to cover.

bagoh20 said...

Remember, most books are just someone babbling on who you would probably not even want to talk to for five minutes.

gbarto said...

For the record, it's an interesting read on how a certain set of people manages to know and believe what you're supposed to know and believe when no one really has time to keep up with all that stuff. Not nearly as jokey as I'd hoped when I ordered it.

traditionalguy said...

Commenting on articles in a Post without reading the article is actually fun...as much fun as gambling in Vegas.

traditionalguy said...

Kindle backlit with wifi may finally sneak up on them.

Seriously, the number of people who NEVER read a book is astounding. What is that? It's a mental illness, that's what.

Which reminds me of the best written and still the most read book in the English Speaking world which is the 1611 King James Holy Bible.

Don't leave home without it.

Rabel said...

Wasn't this guy in The Matrix? He was an architect or something.

wyo sis said...

Broomhandle you said almost word for word what my first reaction was.

Scott M said...

Really, you could just crank down and take a nap and you'd be in exactly the same intellectual place.

That's pretty damned funny.

Astro said...

I'd like you all to not discuss the books I haven't written yet.

I don't have titles for these non-books yet, which I admit adds to the challenge of the non-discussion, but the main point here is to adopt a stance.

SteveGW said...

Norm Geras amused himself a few days ago on a related topic here

Shanna said...

Women, duh.

Exactly. What do you think a 'romance' is?

Sam L. said...

Isaac Azimov wrote an article many years back, titled "The Sound Of Panting". It was about the profusion of professional journal articles being published, and the futility of trying to read all of them.

mikeski said...

TL;DR.

Fernandinande said...

"[Non-reading] is a genuine activity ... that consists of adopting a stance in relation to the immense tide of books that protects you from drowning."

And all this time I thought the dog was just staring into space.

ricpic said...

I was drowning in words
On the printed page --
It should not be for books
But for life we rage!

ed said...

I have ascended to the next higher plane of existence.

I am non-commenting on non-reading and will continue to do so indefinitely and so it is an infinite non-read non-comment.

I will now non-comment on the joy of making a truly excellent ragu spaghetti sauce and the anticipation of a wonderful dinner repast coupled with further non-commenting and maybe a glass of wine or two.

Really rather exhausting.